ABOARD USS ESSEX --
Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, received the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award for excellence in safety throughout fiscal year 2010.
“It is a great honor to receive this award,” said Lt. Col. John P. Mee, commanding officer of HMM-262 (Rein). “I am very proud of the Marines and Sailors that contributed; this truly was an all-hands effort.”
The CNO safety award is a very prestigious award given to both Navy and Marine Corps squadrons that have a very robust safety program that seeks to better Navy and Marine Corps aviation, according to Mee.
“It really takes a lot of hard work every day to get this,” said Maj. David Hurst, the executive officer of HMM-262 (Rein). “Accidents or mishaps could happen very quickly, so everyone has to be paying close attention everyday to prevent them. This really validated that hard work.”
From the Marines flying the aircraft, to the Marines that repair them, everyone contributes to the squadron’s safety record.
“Proper maintenance on the aircraft is extremely important because if we do one thing wrong it could result in a mishap,” said Sgt. Brandon R. House, a CH-46E Sea Knight crew chief with HMM 262 (Reinforced). “We have to ensure everyone is wearing the proper personal protective equipment as they work, because if one Marine falls and seriously injures themselves, then it reflects on our safety record.”
For every repair made to a helicopter, there are three Marines that inspect it, and ensure it has been done correctly.
“This is not just about safety for us,” said Mee. “It’s about our ability to complete the mission and doing it safely.”
The squadron received the award while conducting humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions, in the wake of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan. As a direct result of these safety programs being implemented, there have been no reportable mishaps for HMM 262 (Reinforced) during more than 60,000 flight hours.